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The Crimea - Square Moon (Album Review)

Thursday, 01 August 2013 Written by Huw Baines

If sorry seems to be the hardest word, then goodbye must be a close second. Unless you're the Crimea, that is. With 'Square Moon', the sprawling double album that will serve as the band's swan song, they've crafted a beautiful, bittersweet farewell.

Led by Davey Macmanus – the man who was, for a brief time, the frontman of one of the best live bands in the UK, the Crocketts – the Crimea never quite scaled the heights expected of them, for reasons that remain a mystery. 

Their two previous records, 'Tragedy Rocks' and 'Secrets Of The Witching Hour', met with troubling indifference given their quality, and while the free release of 'Secrets...' secured a spot in the vanguard of the digital revolution, the next step proved elusive.

If there's any justice, 'Square Moon' will be picked up by music fans across the board. Across 22 tracks the band dabble in ethereal pop, haunting melancholia and hook-filled indie, with Macmanus' abstract, often witty lyrics and idiosyncratic delivery the string that binds them together.

“Believe in me, I believe in you. Try to stay alive,” he sings as the mournful Petals Open When Reached By Sunlight opens the record, meshing distant vocals with strings. Last Plane Out Of Saigon, with its dancing piano lead, follows and provides a perfect riposte to the solemn first track, wrapping Macmanus' fear of loneliness in a bright pop jacket.

The Crimea are able to repeat the trick throughout. Jellyfish, If I See My Reflection One More Time, Beehive Mind, Mid Air Collisions and Millionaire all balance Macmanus' reflective, desolate words with endearing compositions. 'Square Moon' is a remarkably cohesive effort and skirts the thorny issue of the double album with ease, dispensing with drastic tonal changes in favour of a slate of arresting songs.

The band have now gone their separate ways, with Macmanus in South Africa starting up a children's home, and 'Square Moon' is a fitting epitaph. It's a big bastard – clocking in at 90 minutes – but you've got the rest of your life to absorb it, which is a treat. So long, then, and thanks for all the tunes.





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